7 Things Our Eye Color Says About Our Health

There’s more to eye color than meets the…eye. Whether they’re brown, hazel, green, blue, gray, or somewhere in between, your eyes can tell you more about yourself. Your eye color could dictate your risk for certain diseases or even predict how your body handles booze.

To get a clue read below:

1. Melanoma is more common in people with blue eyes.
From a genetic standpoint, “melanoma and vitiligo look like they’re opposites. The same variations we saw as protective for vitiligo increased the risk for melanoma. One theory as to why: vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, meaning our natural immune response mistakenly attacks our own bodies. Over-activity of that response could be what makes brown eyed people more susceptible to vitiligo—and what fights off melanoma. The exact relationship is unknown, but the genes that protect against vitiligo, those that protect against melanoma, and those that simply dictate the amount and type of pigment you’re given all seem to be intertwined.

2. Vitiligo is less common among blue-eyed people.
The autoimmune disease, which causes the loss of skin color in blotches, is less common in people with blue eyes. Of the nearly 3,000 vitiligo patients—who were all Caucasian—involved in the research, 27% had blue eyes, 30% had green or hazel eyes, and 43% had brown eyes, whereas the typical breakdown of eye color among Caucasians is 52% blue, 22% green or hazel, and 27% brown.

3. People with dark eyes may be more sensitive to alcohol.
If your eyes are black or brown, you may drink less than your blue- or green-eyed friends. The researchers found higher self-reported alcohol use among women with light eyes as well as more frequent alcohol abuse among a group of light-eyed prisoners who they studied. They hypothesized that dark-eyed folks may be more sensitive to alcohol and other drugs in general, which may lead them to drink less to achieve the desired effects.

4. Dark-eyed people are more likely to have cataracts.
A fogginess appearing over the pupil of the eye is a common sign of cataracts, a clouding of the vision common with aging. And people with dark eyes are at greater risk. Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays is one of the crucial steps of cataract prevention for anyone, but the researchers recommend dark-eyed sunbathers take particular caution.

5. People with light eyes may be more likely to have age-related macular degeneration.
One of the most common causes of vision loss after 50 is age-related macular degeneration or AMD, damage to a small part of the eye near the center of the retina that sharpens your eyesight. It can begin as blurriness and progress to spots that appear completely blank. Several small studies have suggested that, in addition to smoking and a family history of the disease, having light eyes also ups your risk for AMD, perhaps as much as twofold. However, most of these studies have been small, and some question the significance of the findings. AMD is more common among Caucasians, who are also more likely to have pale eyes, but she’s not familiar with any research supporting a causal link between the two. It could be an association, such as how African Americans have a higher risk of glaucoma and a higher proportion of dark eyes, but the two may have nothing to do with each other.

6. Women with light eyes may better withstand pain.
According to a resaerch, Women with light eyes may have a higher tolerance for pain and discomfort. A small group of women were studied before and after giving birth, and those with darker eyes exhibited more anxiety and sleep disturbances in response to the pain of the experience. Dark-eyed women also experienced a greater reduction in pain after receiving an epidural, suggesting more sensitivity to pain, MedPage Today reported. Belfer told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that the results were very preliminary, but could one day help doctors pinpoint a genetic cause of pain.

7. Changing eye color could be a sign something’s wrong.
If you notice a reddening in the whites of your eyes, you might have undiagnosed allergies. If they turn yellow, you may have liver problems. If just one eye has recently changed color, it could be a sign of inherited diseases like neurofibromatosis, which causes nerve tissue tumors, or Waardenburg syndrome, which typically involves deafness and pale skin, or it could even signal melanoma of the iris.

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